Purpose: This study was conducted to validate a framework for selecting a mHealth app, namely MASUN 2.0 (method of app selection based on user needs 2.0) and evaluate its usability for selecting the optimal mHealth app to support women with menstrual discomfort, including dysmenorrhea and premenstrual syndrome.
Background/significance: There are more than 400,000 mHealth apps in 2021. Most users often choose mHealth apps based on ranking, rating, or reviews. However, for effective, safe, and highly compliant health management using mHealth apps, not only popularity but also user needs and expert judgment should be included in the app selection process. For this, MASUN 2.0 needs to check its validity and usability.
Methods: This study was conducted in two phases: 1) validation of the MASUN 2.0 through surveys with 13 nursing informatics experts, 2) usability testing of MASUN 2.0 with clinical experts, app experts, and users in selecting the optimal mHealth apps for menstrual discomfort. In phase 1, questionnaires were used to check 4 aspects: importance, applicability, relevance, and clarity. In phase 2, after screening 2,377 menstrual apps in Apple iTunes and Google Play Store, five apps became the candidate apps, and the apps were reviewed by a total of 15 experts: clinical experts, app experts, and potential users. Lastly, 194 young women participated in a usability test to assure the best app.
Results: Through phase 1, the MASUN 2.0 has been modified to be simple: a total of 11 required tasks, 1 optional task, 21 sub-tasks. Additionally, the English version of the MASUN 2.0 guideline with detailed descriptions and estimated times was created based on nursing informatics expert responses. In phase 2, the 194 participants who used the best app reported that the app helped them realize their menstrual and premenstrual syndromes and pattern. Moreover, they rated the app as higher in impact, perceived usefulness, and ease of use than other candidate apps.
Conclusions/implications: This study verified the applicability of MASUN 2.0 for a menstrual-related app selection. We found the optimal app derived through MASUN 2.0 could be used for menstruation-related health management of patients who experience menstrual discomfort in a clinical environment. In the future, if an optimal app related to other health problems such as diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease is derived through MASUN 2.0 in other countries, it would suggest the usability of MASUN 2.0 has expanded.
Learning outcomes: Learners will understand how to select the mHealth app based on the healthcare needs of digital health consumers and the judgment of clinical experts. The MASUN guidelines can be the validated criteria for evaluating the quality of mHealth apps. Additionally, the cases in our study will allow learners to identify the mHealth app to address menstrual discomfort in young women and the influences of using the menstrual app.